Dell is shipping new computers with Microsoft Office 2010 now and it will be on the shelves (virtual and real) to buy on June 15. This is the collection of tools you use every day to do your work and organize your life. Should you upgrade to the new version?
I’m going to offer some generalizations aimed at home and small business users who buy Office individually. The rules are different at bigger companies.
- NEW COMPUTER
If you’re buying a new computer, you should get Microsoft Office 2010, either preinstalled or purchased separately. Don’t try to save a buck re-using an old copy of Office 2003. I’m not going to give you an elaborate explanation of why this is the right answer, just trust me – there are pitfalls trying to use obsolete software on new systems, and synergies between Office 2010 and Windows 7 that will make things work. Just do it.
- CURRENTLY USING OFFICE 2003
If you’re running Office 2003, you probably have a 5-6 year old Windows XP computer. Your system probably can run the new software but it might chug a little bit – Office 2007/2010 is more demanding than Office 2003. By this time you’ve installed the Office Compatibility Pack so you can open files in the newer Office formats – .DOCX, .XLSX, and the like; those formats haven’t changed in Office 2010, so you’ll be able to keep working in Office 2003. In other words, you can upgrade, but there’s nothing that forces you to change.
If you’re currently running Office 2003 on a Windows XP computer, save your money for a new computer and get Office 2010 then. You’re already due for a new system and you’ll have a much better experience discovering the new features if your computer is running Windows 7 at full speed.
- CURRENTLY USING OFFICE 2007
There is no dramatic change in Office 2010 to match the ribbon bar that you encountered when you started Word & Excel in Office 2007. There are incremental improvements in several areas that I’ll write about in the next few weeks, and there’s a possibility that we will be smitten with the ability to save and edit files online with Office Web Apps, which includes online file storage that can be accessed directly from the new Office programs. (There is a possibility that we will ignore Office Web Apps completely. I’ve got my guess written down but I’m not going to reveal it yet.)
If you’re using Office 2007, read about Office 2010 and upgrade only if you discover new features that might be important to you. It’s worth some money if you can change something important about the way you get your work done or get through your day. It’s not worth it just to see the new buttons.
I’ve been using Office 2010 for the last few weeks and I’ve found a few things that happen to suit my needs in rather delightful ways. Each of us have very different experiences with these programs, so what I’ll highlight may be meaningless to you – and I might not mention a new feature that will make you flushed and sweaty when you find it. Think about how much time you spend using Office programs every day and let that inspire you to read about Office 2010 in the next few weeks, so you can make an informed decision about whether this upgrade matters to you!